Humanity needs scapegoats. At least that’s what we believe. After every act of violence, we shout out loud and name a scapegoat. Some times the scapegoat is foreign, as in “Islamic terrorist!!!” And sometimes the scapegoat is domestic, as in “He had mental illness!!!” Sometimes the scapegoat is a person and other times it is an object, vehicle, or weapon.
Scapegoats exist for us, as a society, to lay our sin on them and drive them out of society. Having laid our sin on the scapegoat, we can wipe our hands clean and claim to have done something about the situation.
Yet, all we have done is shout and blame – blame someone else or something else.
How often do we look internally? Most times, never. That would be too painful. We would have to examine what made such violence possible. We would have to examine areas that we don’t like to touch – the immaterial, the spiritual, broken relationships. We’d have to explore and search out what it is about our cultures that shapes people to do such things. More importantly, we’d have to turn internally to see what it is we – yes, each one of us – does and believes that keeps the status quo in place.
It is easy to voice the words that things must change, but if we don’t start with a change of ourselves, where can the change possibly happen? If it doesn’t begin with us, where will it begin? Are each one of us blameless? Are any of us sinless that we can legitimately point the finger of blame without it pointing back on us?
These acts of violence will continue because we are broken people who refuse to examine our own sins and brokenness. These will continue because we refuse to look at our culture which embraced and encourages violence and makes a profit off of violence. These acts of violence will continue. And so will the scapegoating.
But it doesn’t have to. We can choose a different path. How about it?